How to Live Within 24 Hours
I think it’s watching the deep pinks and oranges fade into blue that I find so mesmerizing about a good sunset. I love knowing that as the sun sets in my little piece of the world it’s lighting up someone else’s. Maybe what I love the most about sunset’s is it’s rhythm and consistency. I know the sun will go down over the horizon leaving me with a set time of darkness and yet like clockwork it will be back the next morning bringing a new day and a fresh start.
Sunset, above all else reminds me of my limitations and forces me to confront my desire to over-control my life. There are obviously things we are intended to control and yet I often find that my tendency is to attempt to be responsible for a thousand and one things that I was never called to take ownership of. Sunset reminds me that I have 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. In my perfect world I would be able to wake up at 5 am to read my bible and pray. I would keep in touch with all of my long distance friends while being fully available to the ones right around me. I would listen to their struggles thoughtfully and always have wisdom to share while also being the exact right balance of fun. I would watch their kids for them all the time to give them a break and make meals for every new mom I know. I would have the house perfectly clean and dinner ready with a bathed toddler already in PJ’s sitting on my lap reading books when my husband gets home from work. I would have all the errands run by 9am and spend the rest of my morning teaching Ayla her ABC’s, reading her a million books and making sure we are always coming up with new and creative DIY art projects. There would never be laundry on my couch or toys on my floor and my toilet and shower would always be sparkling. The 100% organic meals I cook each night would always look and takes like they fell right out of a Martha Stewart cook book. I would have the capacity to take on more counseling clients and consistently go to trainings to make sure I am always up to date on all of the newest research in my field. I would read interesting books, listen to encouraging podcasts and always be up to date on the news. I would lead bible studies at church, write thoughtful notes to encourage people around me and have time left over to curl my hair, do my make up and tape tutorials of me doing it all. I would obviously document all of this in beautifully put together, cohesive tiny squares with well thought out encouraging blog posts to accompany each tiny and perfect picture of my life.
But guess what? I have 24 hours. That is it. My life will never look close to that and I am starting to process how tobetter love the mess. What I have been learning is that if I can’t accomplish what I am trying to accomplish in 24 hours then I am either doing more than I am called to do or I am not being strategic about my time. It’s true that sometimes it’s just about reworking my schedule a bit, but I find that more often than not I am trying to play God, be perfect, and do it all when that’s just not my job.
Sunset reminds me that God is God and I am not. I have limitations that were graciously given to me so that I would have to depend on a good God who is in control and owns time. To say 24 hours is not enough is to say that God just doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s saying that the amazing gift of today that I have been given just isn’t good enough. But friends, it is. It is enough. Sometimes we have to be ok with letting people’s expectations of us fall short. We have to sit with the tension of letting people down (sometimes ourselves included) or not being able to be the perfect wife, mother, friend, boss, employee, etc.
Sunsets, and the limitations that come with them, are a constant reminder to me that my value does not come from making others happy, or being perfect in every area of my life. It comes from the fact that my identity has been purchased though Christ’s blood and now I am seen as perfect in Gods eyes even when I consistently fall short of what I hope to accomplish. When my view of my own worth stops coming from what I do or don’t do I am freed up to stop trading the good things in my life for the GREAT things in my life. I am free to prioritize what I do in a day based on my first call, to honor God with my life and my second call, to love my husband and daughter well. Everything else falls into those categories. I can arrange my day to please God, knowing he’s already pleased with me, rather than trying to gain approval from the people around me. I am free to release what I was not able to do to God, knowing I did all I could and that’s all I am asked to do. I simply ask the question over and over each day “God what of this is my responsibility today and what do I need to let go of and trust you with?” The mommy guilt is lifted, the friend guilt is lifted, the wife guilt is lifted. It’s replaced with a work ethic that strives to enjoy God and honor him with my 24 hours all while moving towards this goal in complete peace. I can sleep at night knowing I did my best to be responsible for what God called me to be responsible for, let God control the rest and am forgiven for the places I may have failed.
Life is infinitely better when you can spend your days enjoying God rather than trying to be him. I have become so thankful for the setting sun and the daily reminder of my limitations. “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3)”